Are the people you want to hear from actually on the other end? You might have an existing customer base that you are trying to contact, but their phone numbers or email addresses are invalid. It’s always good to have two modes of communication in case the first method of contact doesn’t work. Check your email bounce rate, or the number of no answers from phone calls. Are you contacting them at the right time of day? Perhaps you are being filtered straight to the junk mail.
Having an informative and succinct introduction to your survey is vital in getting respondents started. (This goes for an email headline too). People want to know what a survey is about, why their opinion is helpful and what the outcomes will be used for. Give them an interesting overview of these three points that will make them feel like their contribution will be meaningful. There’s no need to waffle on here, or you might lose them before they have even started.
Are potential respondents being screened out before they even get a chance to start? Screeners can be extremely useful in helping to identify the exact audience you want to survey. However, if they are too stringent, you may be left scrambling to find respondents. Make sure that you have defined your target sample correctly and are using the right channels to contact them. You could also see if there is an option to open up your quotas and apply post-weighting to the data. Find our more in our Beginners Guide to Quantitative Research here.
How long is your questionnaire….really? While you might care about your brand, product or service A LOT – this isn’t necessarily the case for your potential respondents. People are time poor. If they feel like something is taking too much time they are likely to just give up altogether.
It is also a good idea to mix up the question types. No one wants to fill out rows and rows of scaled questions. In fact, this will lead to respondent fatigue and a decrease in the data quality. Read our blog here on our Beginners Guide to Quantitative Research. Mix it up and keep the respondent interested with varied question types and easy to understand language.
It is human nature, sometimes we simply forget. A little reminder to nudge us in the right direction can be a great way to increase your response rate. This works especially well within organisations, where the message can be filtered down from the top. Have your CEO or Head of Department send out encouraging messages to fill out questionnaires. Change the subject line in your email send out. Or perhaps try to call at a different time of day. Sometimes we get caught up and put things off for later, only to completely let it slip our minds.
If you are really struggling to get those numbers up, we recommend that you think about incentivising! And no, this doesn’t have to be a costly exercise. We are not talking about paying every single person that fills out the survey. Instead you could try things like:
Think about who your audience is and what they might want to gain from participating in the research. Customers may be more incentivised by prizes or discount offerings, while businesses could use the insights gained from your research for their own benefit (e.g. where do they sit in comparison to other businesses). Get creative as to how you can give back to your respondents and get them filling out your questionnaire.